June 22, 2018 9:20 pm
Updated: June 23, 2018 9:37 am

‘Move on’: Unifor president urges workers 65 and older to retire, if they can

WATCH ABOVE: Jerry Dias says the earlier older workers move aside, the sooner there is more room for young workers. But freedom is not always a reality at 65. Mark Carcasole reports.

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If you’re 65 or older and still working, not because you have to, but because you want to, Jerry Dias has a message for you.

“Those that have the means should move out of the way. There’s a lot of young people today who are struggling,” says the national president of labour union Unifor.

“So those that are in a position to move on, move. Create an opportunity for young people.”

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In a column written for The Huffington Post, Dias laments the end of mandatory retirement as a loss of opportunity for young workers. He says it’s what got him a foot in the door in his previous profession.

“I think about the opportunity that I got in the late ’70s at de Havilland Aircraft/Bombardier. Somebody retired and I got a job. So we can’t be thinking about ourselves all the time, we need to think about others.”

Numbers from Statistics Canada’s latest census show the amount of seniors working these days has steadily risen: from 9.3% part-time and 4.7% full-time in 1980, to 13.8% part-time and 5.9% full-time in 2015.

Officials at human resources firm Morneau Shepell say there are a number of factors. People live longer in retirement these days, and companies need workers to serve for longer and are often more stingy with their pension plans.

“Defined benefit pension plans were the norm many years ago… and those provided secure retirement income if they worked a full career,” says the company’s vice president, Joe De Dominicis.

“In today’s environment, many people don’t have defined benefit pension plans. They have to save on their own for retirement.”

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Dias says he understands that not everybody can call it a career at age 65. He says if anything, that sheds a light on what he calls a social issue.

“It’s a debate about wants and needs for young people, opportunities for young people, but there’s also the social aspect about making sure people can retire in dignity with a decent income.”

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